Culted Sounds: Orchid talks UKG and her personal attachment to pop music

Culted Sounds: Orchid talks UKG and her personal attachment to pop music

by Ollie Cox
7 min

Orchid is the British-Iranian singer-songwriter fusing her heartfelt vocals with an energising electro-pop sound. Producing high-bpm music pairs with her fast moving thoughts. Just like her songs, her style stems from a range of influences, from skaters to cartoon characters. Since she started making music she has been able to find her voice and stand up for what she believes in, feeding into her infectious pop sound. We caught up with Orchid following the release of her latest single Gorgeous

Hey Orchid, how are you? What have you been up to today? 

I’m so good right now. I haven’t had a minute to write or be inspired for a couple weeks and today is my first day back. European summer has begun. I flew into Barcelona today and went pretty much straight to the MacBa (Barcelona Museum of Contemporary Art). Me and my best friends are making a military style plan of how to make it to 7 different water-based activities in the next 2 days. One of them is the pool Kylie Minogue shot the MV for ‘Slow’ in.

In previous interviews you have said some of your inspirations come from Grimes, Rosalia and Janet Jackson. This is a wide ranging and eclectic range of influences, do you feel this is the key to creating your own style of music? 

I think I’m inspired by different artists for totally different reasons – for some it’s vocally, some their way with words, others it’s production, someone else it’ll be how they used fashion, made iconic music videos and their stage presence. Some it’s just what it meant in my life at the point I got into it and if it made me stronger, if it made me fight, if it made me fall in love. I don’t think those artists are what makes my music what it is, they’re what makes me who I’ve become as a person, and that’s who makes the music. 

Freddie Sisted ©

Your music is a mixture of intimate poetry that feels deeply personal and pop music that feels familiar. How do you go about fusing the two? 

Pop music IS deeply personal! To me they feel naturally intertwined, it makes sense to put them together. With pop there’s nowhere to hide, it’s dramatic and theatrical, and it forces you to say the quiet parts loud and clear. I think that’s about the most intimate and personal you can get. I think poetry can do the same, it looks convoluted on the surface, but sometimes it makes more sense and hits you harder than any other words can. I’ve been getting more and more into it; been reading a lot of Hafez and Rumi to connect to my own culture, and the past couple months I’ve been obsessed with Pablo Neruda. His work is unreal. 

One of the lyrics to Gorgeous is “And I pray late at night if I fail / At least I look good doing it, I won’t let my tears ruin it”. It seems you take pride in your fashion, and it is something that can be used as an armour against the struggles you face. When it comes to getting dressed, who do you look up to? 

Getting dressed in a cute outfit is honestly the ultimate distraction from a whole world crumbling around you. 5* reviews from me. I have a lot of style icons, 90s haute couture runways, glamorous older women, baggy masc skaters, dancers and dance movies. Movie and cartoon characters in general. Beach life – I have no idea what to wear in winter so I guess you won’t see me. I went to Tokyo for the first time this year and got Harajuku’d tf up.

Your latest single Gorgeous feels self-assured even though it deals with negative emotions. Is music a way for you to deal with and process difficult situations/emotions? 

100%, I couldn’t survive without it. I’ve always escaped through other peoples’ music, and I get even more lost in writing and producing. It might not fix or untangle everything but it feels so special to transform it into something you can hold and nurture, a song or a visual. Also I found out recently that singing is a form of meditation that helps your nervous system out and nothing has ever made more sense to me. Being real, I need my voice more than anything else. I think of it like being a gymnast or a skater, getting into this dream state focusing on practising tricks for absolutely no reason.

A lot of your music draws on club sounds. Do you spend a lot of time on the dance floor for inspo? 

I think that’s just the speed my brain operates at, somewhere between 130-145 BPM. I do love dance music, but I take much more direct inspiration from dance classes, and walking around the city at night, people-watching like a movie. That feels dramatic and connected to club music.

What does a typical day look like for Orchid?

Step 1. If I don’t spend at least some of it making myself late by dancing around my room naked when I should be getting ready and leaving, I crumble. I need to check out things I’ve never heard before and play whatever my current obsession is about 30 times in a row. Right now it’s Sociopathic Dance Queen by Amaarae. I also have to write something, anything, as soon as I get up. At the moment most of my days are either going to the studio, or if I’m working on my own from my bedroom, writing or on visuals, I’ll almost always start an idea on a walk in nature, sitting under a tree. I get really inspired by swimming and animation too.

Donny Johnson ©

You have said that you have found your voice in recent years. Can you share what this process was like? 

I mean it both literally and figuratively. I’ve sung since I can remember but I was so shy with my voice and used to bury it in all these other sounds. I thought I was a terrible singer. I used to write in this coded, covert way, like I was writing a secret diary that someone was going to snoop on. So in a literal sense, I started pushing myself to say the hard thing, be direct, and put my voice in the front, own it. That alone has changed my life.

Figuratively, I think making and releasing art forces you to stand up for what you believe in and who you are. Lots of people have lots of ideas of what you should do or be – quiet, comedic, behind the scenes, an ethnicity, a gender, one of whatever labels and niches they can most easily digest. Having to back yourself and your vision is a fast-track way to finally learn to speak up and be heard.

Are you working on anything exciting at the moment? Is there anything in the works? 

I’ve been sitting on my next EP for so long I’m gonna burst. It’s super dramatic, I’m so excited. One of the songs is Bollywood levels of love story drama, another one is like this gothic romantic horror story. My favourite song is a UKG track inspired by a Rumi poem. I’m getting to work with some of my most talented friends on the visuals as well, I can’t wait. There are a couple of collaborations on the way before that too, from all the different sound-worlds I’m in love with.

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